Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce chair Mike Pemberton says he’s hopeful a letter of intent signed Aug. 28 by Economic Development Minister Ranj Pillai and Government of the Philippines Secretary of Labour and Employment Silvestre Bello will eventually lead to a faster, more streamlined process under the Yukon Nominee Program to help address the territory’s labour shortage.
The nominee program allows Yukon employers to seek international staff for positions that can’t be filled locally.
“We truly, truly need labour,” Pemberton said in an Aug. 28 interview, following the signing of the letter of intent.
The signing ceremony at the Yukon Transportation Museum was attended by a delegation of Filipino government officials, Yukon government officials and numerous local business owners and staff who have come to the territory from the Philippines to work here.
The letter of intent outlines plans to establish a framework for negotiations on immigration programs and cooperation on human resource development between the Philippines and the territory.
Negotiations would deal with matters such as matching Filipino workers with employment opportunities in the Yukon under the Yukon Nominee Program; system enhancements for the recruitment, protection and placement of Filipino workers in the territory; and a public information campaign on the Yukon Nominee Program.
Further details on those initiatives is not yet available with Pillai stating at the signing it will be Yukon government staff working on the details for the framework.
“It’s much needed work,” Pemberton said of the initiatives listed.
Approximately 40 per cent of those coming to the Yukon to work through the nominee program come from the Philippines, Pillai said.
Pemberton said the “details will be in the pudding,” but he remains hopeful the agreement will be good for both the territory and those coming to work from the Philippines.
Prior to signing off on the letter Bello said the agreement recognizes “the global reality” of the labour market.
He went on to state it “will pave the way for a stronger partnership between the Yukon and the Philippines, which will foster the protection of rights and promotion of Filipino workers or persons.”
Pillai, meanwhile, highlighted the important role the Filipino community is playing in the territory.
“I would like to thank Secretary Bello for travelling this long way and seeking deeper cooperation between the Philippines and Yukon,” he said. “We value the Filipino community and the cultural and economic contributions of its members to the territory. These negotiations will make it easier for Filipinos to come to Yukon while reducing costs and red tape for employers.”
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